Sustainability and Sport

Large sports arenas are perhaps one of the most inefficient land uses out there. Large buildings, used for a handful of days a year, with oversized parking lots and traffic nightmares for the community. Since my days taking classes with David Harvey at Johns Hopkins — when we spoke about all the problems with the (then) newly opened Oriole Park at Camden Yards — I have been critical of this wave of publicly funded stadium construction.

14 35-foot microturbines installed at the stadiumSo I was a bit skeptical back in late 2010 when the Philadelphia Eagles were trying to be the first net-zero energy stadium. Then, when the deal with SolarBlue fell through, I wasn’t surprised. But last spring, the Eagles once again announced a plan to install solar and wind facilities at Lincoln Financial Field — this time with Princeton-based NRG. And this time things are moving forward.

11000 solar panels affixed to Lincoln Financial FieldI had a chance today to take a tour of the stadium, as part of the Campus Sustainability Week activities here at Temple. And I have to admit that I was impressed. A few details:

  • Everything used in the stadium — all the way down to the beverage cups, hot dog wrappers, and beer cans (no more plastic) is either recyclable or compostable. Both are taken to off-site facilities for reprocessing.
  • The team makes green sourcing (paint, carpets, etc.) a condition of any RFP they issue.
  • And for what the team can’t control (tailgate trash), waste is separated and brought to a nearby cogeneration facility.

The result: 99.89% of waste is diverted from landfill.

Now, all of this isn’t going to make me an Eagles fan, but I have to say I’m very impressed by their result at Going Green.

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2 Replies to “Sustainability and Sport”

  1. Glad you put these ideas down, Jeff. And I’m glad to be introduced to this TU blogging site. Didn’t know it existed!

    One question: Did your tour guides address in the energy and GHG emissions that go into getting fans and staff to and from the stadium on a game day? Would be interesting to know what the impacts of transport are and if, down the road, they’ll consider ways to mitigate / offset that part of their operations.

    1. They didn’t specifically talk about that issue, but they did mention that the team buys carbon offsets — as well as having planted a number of trees in a local park — to offset their own travel. So they’re at least thinking about it.

      The next topic they are planning to address: water.

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